This is part of series of blogposts covering London’s cycle superhighways, from a commuter’s perspective. Feel free to comment on your experience of using this superhighway – do keep things civil though!
CS5 is a short fully segregated cycle lane that connects Oval in South London to Pimlico in North London via Vauxhall Bridge. It was opened in November 2015 and is in fact the shortest of all London’s cycle superhighways. What makes this route so super, is not its length but connectivity as it links to as many other existing routes as possible; It connects with the existing Cycle Superhighway 8 at Millbank and provides a connection with Cycle Superhighway 7 at Oval. Furthermore, it links into existing cycle routes through Kennington. For northbound cyclists going to the east of Victoria the scheme includes a segregated link to a new Quietway route to Westminster, St James’s and the new East-West Cycle Superhighway (under construction). Links can also be made both east and west (to Westminster, Sloane Square, and Kensington) via the existing Ebury Street back-street cycle track. At the southern end, the segregated section links to the existing Meadow Road back street cycle track and London Cycle Network route 3 (LCN3) connecting Clapham, Wimbledon and Kingston.
The ultimate goal of CS5 was to link Victoria Station up to New Cross in South East London, with a planned extension from its current southerly point at Oval. Plans for this are not yet available
Notwithstanding, the network of the existing connections allows cyclists from cross all parts of London to avoid the intimidating gyratories at both Vauxhall and Victoria when crossing over the river. Within a month of opening, back in December 2015, the development saw a 29% increase in cyclists crossing the Vauxhall bridge in peak rush hour, which accounted for 40% of all road users. This TfL study stated this was the equivalent of taking 113 cars an hour off Vauxhall Bridge. These stats are expected to be even higher today.
CS5 starts right outside the infamous Oval Cricket Ground, home of Surrey CC. Lesser known is that lying in the Oval’s shadow is Beafeater Gin Distillery. Unfortunately the area is dearth of cycling outlets. If you are in need of an innertube or quick fix before setting off, Balfe’s Bikes Workshop in Kennington is well respected. If you are after a fix of a different kind, namely coffee, try Cycle PS in Camberwell; a cycle workshop and cafe, frequented by the South London’s fixie and flat white lovers alike. Both a cool 5 minutes cycle from Oval.
Back on track, from Oval tube station, follow the main A202 round the stadium Northbound, sticking to the bus lane. This lane forms access to the bi-directional fully segregated cycle lane. Essentially the bus lane was taken out from this point on, and replaced with CS5. Because of this space, the lane is generously wide and feels well protected from the busy traffic. The cycle lane is on the same level as the pavement, which itself is quite narrow at points. This can lead to pedestrians staying into it, particularly in rush hour so keep an eye on large pedestrian groups. The first left, a small turn into an estate, is also the first link – LCN3 which tales you all the way to Kingston.
Past this estate, CS5 continues straight following the road past a floating bus stop. There are a couple of minor roads with give way lines, where cars can cross the cycle lane to get access to do check down each as you approach. After this you come to a controlled cycle traffic lights. Past these and the route meets the Vauxhall Gyratory, with another traffic light set. A seperate lane to the left is a link to South Lambeth road towards Stockwell. On the green light go straight on taking you across the busy road to the opposite side. Follow the CS5 arrow markings on the road, roll up the pavement, and stick left through the underpass as the arrows dictate. Go through the underpass, with Waterloo bound trains rumbling overhead, and follow the kink right at the end. Here you approach a double set of light crossings which allows cyclists to safely, and in one go, cross both directions of the gyratory traffic. Approaching the furtherest side stay left to access the cycle lane onto Vauxhall bridge.
The lane becomes a full segregated 2 way cycle lane along the East side of the bridge, widening out for space to cycle two abreast. Look over your right as you pass the iconic MI6 Headquarters building. The route continues uninterrupted across the stretch of the bridge until reaching dry land again you are met by traffic lights for Grosvenor Road, the doorstep of Pimlico. This road provides an opportunity to link onto CS8; left towards Battersea and right towards Westminster. Pimlico is known for its art industry, and taking this CS8 towards Westminster for a short detour you can visit Tate Britain and Chelsea School of Art.
If these galleries do not interest you, stay straight across the road as CS5 continues past Bessborough Gardens, where you will see prime examples of Pimlico’s iconic 19th regency architecture. The end of CS5 is only a few meters ahead. If you are intending on going to Victoria, you will need to cycle diagonally across the road at the John Islip Street Junction, or else the end of the route leads you onto the Quietway route towards Westminster
So, what is the verdict on CS3. To start with, it has made a navigable, largely segregated route through one of London’s busiest areas, and area seen as a no go by even the most experienced riders. This has truly connected up North to South, and as the cycling numbers show a key route over the river.
The segregation in many ways is top class, with wide fully segregated cycle lanes and plenty of road and eye line signage to boot. However, placing the lanes at pavement level do little to deter pedestrians from veering into it, which is a disappointed in the design. And make no mistakes, it is a confusing route; trying to wiggle your way through Vauxhall, and then cycling against traffic over Vauxhall bridge, often to then have to skirt back over to the other side seems overly complex.
However after a few attempts it does start to get easer to negotiate. Start exploring London further and you will soon appreciate CS5’s unparalleled connecting routes. These routes mean this short route can form the basis of many different rides across London. The hotly anticipated extension will only draw in more cyclists, and for this reason we give CS5 a thumbs up.